Saturday, February 27, 2010

What I See

The 2010 Neuro Flim Festival is going on now through March 17, 2010. The contest, held by the American Academy of Neurology Foundation, is an effort to bring awareness to neurological disorders. The films are created by people who have been affected in one way or another by neurological disease.

This film gives a sobering look at the way Lewy Body Dementia devastates families. I have watched this film and it is heartbreaking and hard to watch. Still, I encourage you to watch this film and then visit YouTube to rate the film.

A selection of films from this contest will be shown at the Neuro Film Festival in Toronto in April. Even amongst the specialists Lewy needs to be more prominent so this an opportunity to bring much needed attention to this disease.

For more information visit the 2010 Neuro Film Festival page at the American Academy of Neurology Foundation web site.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Lucy, You Got Some Splaining To Do

On January 12, 2010 the earth under Haiti shook and changed the city of Port-au-Prince forever. A few days later a shaking began in the foundations of my world and I suspect it has changed my life just the same.

People have asked me why the earthquake in Haiti touched me the way it did. After all, I wasn’t directly affected by having family or friends there. But, just days after the quake I began to see Facebook updates from friends about Dan Woolley and David Hames. Because I am a Christian I began to pray along with their families and friends. When Dan was rescued I rejoiced with his family and continued praying for David.

Over the course of four weeks I prayed fervently for a miracle. My heart was as full of David and his family as it was of my own family. I talked about them by first name. Several people mistakenly thought that his wife and I are friends. Truth is she and I have never met. I have never met David. Yet they are part of my extended Christian family and my life is now tied up in theirs. I wept tears of sorrow for the family when I heard David’s body had been recovered.

During the four weeks David was buried in the rubble in Haiti God worked in my heart. He showed me through this tragedy what Christian community is all about. He opened my eyes to how my love for Him should shape my life. He used the earthquake to break me down and take me out of my comfort zone. He shook the foundations in my life. The shaking brought down some of the unstable structures. Those structures weren’t physical; they were beliefs and habits that needed to be changed. God asked me hard questions. He wasn’t taking my pat catechism answers. He probed until I spoke the truth. It wasn’t pretty, but it freed me and caused me to truly examine my heart. I believe that God will continue to walk me down this path for many more miles. He hasn’t finished with me yet. I am going to take His hand and walk with Him.

I have learned through Facebook that David was an incredible man. He loved his wife and family intensely. He loved God just as immensely. David had a great sense of humor and kept those around him laughing. He was a support for his friends and family. He had a passion for helping orphans. He wanted to show God’s love to the world. He was well loved and will be greatly missed.

One of David’s friends wrote that we prayed for a miracle and it took us a while to realize David was the miracle.

Those close to the Hames family have set up funds to help the family and to continue David’s work for the orphans in Haiti and Swaziland. If you are led to help, please click the picture of David in my sidebar. The link will take you to a site to contribute.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010

Bugs for Dinner

This was my week to do Family Dinner on Saturday night. Saturday dinner is a tradition that started in the last few years of Mom’s life when she was no longer able to attend Mass with Dad. I would stay with her and fix dinner while Dad, my sister and the kids went to church. In the last few years we have begun rotating houses for dinner.

This week I made a yummy white bean chicken chili from one of my favorite cookbooks....

Don't you just love crockpots!?! What could be easier than throwing everything in the pot and letting it cook all day. This is my kind of cooking!

For dessert I made these adorable Love Bug Cupcakes.

I found these cute love bugs  over at Beth’s The Stories from A to Z blog. Mine didn’t turn out quite the same as Beth’s, but they were cute and the fam enjoyed them :-)

I happened on Beth’s blog quite by accident, but the first thing I saw was the post about the love bugs. I perused her blog for a while and have revisited several times since then. Her blog is a lot of fun to wander through, see all her great ideas of creating beauty out of chaos, and she hosts lots of fun “parties” where other bloggers get to join in! I encourage you to head on over and check it out.

Some facts about ladybugs....

        A Ladybug will not fly if the temperature is below 55 Degrees F

        If you squeeze a ladybug it may bite you

        Ladybugs chew from side to side

       The spots on a Ladybug fade as it gets older

       A Ladybug can live until it is 3 years old

Friday, February 19, 2010

Catching and Flying

A pastor recently preached a sermon that touched people enough to have someone email it out to a group of friends. I received the email in which the pastor was quoted as saying that when you reach a cliff you can step off knowing that God will either catch you or teach you to fly. What a great thought. Either way, you can step off that cliff because God will take care of you.

This really resonated with me because my life the last few years has been a series of cliffs. In 2007 I was laid off and went through a period of unemployment. At the same time my mother was battling a disease that was stealing her from us a little at a time. It was a hard time, but God caught me. He held me in the crook of His arms and carried me through.

2008 came and with it a return to the company I was laid off from the year before. It also brought a promotion which involved extra responsibilities and a long commute. From this cliff God chose to teach me how to fly. Like a momma bird He pushed me out of the nest, but He was there to bolster my confidence and pull me back up if I forgot to flap my wings.

I am again standing on the edge of a cliff and I think God may be nudging me out of my nest of comfort. My wings were tested and proved worthy. God was faithful and so there should be no fear, but there is fear and the desire to stay right where I am. Is God asking me to step out on faith? I am not sure yet, but if He is I have much evidence that it will be okay.

Catching or flying, God is there. The Bible tells us we can trust God; He is faithful. It is hard sometimes to step off the cliff. Our human nature wants to stand on firm ground. God wants us to step. He wants us to trust. He wants us to know without a doubt that He is faithful. The only way we can get to that point is to step off the cliff.

Photo copyright 2009 Thomas H. Fickas, Jr.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Shopping List

Thought I would share a tidbit of my daily life. This was my shopping list today......

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Secret Pal

So, I was working on a more serious post for today, but it's not quite done yet. It needs to percolate a little more before it hits the big time and gets posted.

In its stead I decided to share with you some gifts my secret pal has left for me. I don't know who this pal is or why they have decided to give me gifts so I can only imagine it's because of my sparkling personality, fancy wit, and incredible intelligence.

About two weeks ago I came to work and found this little sand castle tucked back on the shelf on my desk. No note, no explanation. I sent out an email to the department thinking it had to be one of them, but no one will cop to it and if anyone knows who is doing it they are not letting on.

I have made jokes about this one saying it was probably given to me by my boss and that it probably has a "manager cam" in it so he can make sure I am working.  Honestly though, I have no idea and it's driving me crazy.

Today, I came back to work after several sick days working from home and I found this handy dandy little foot massager someone left for me. Again, no note, no explanation. I am tempted to call in CSI to see if we can get fingerprints. You all might recall from this previous post that I don't do well with suprises.

Also today I found this on my desk. It's not from my secret pal since my coworkers were quick to tell me who had put the cupcake there originally and I recognized the handwriting. This note made me laugh out loud!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Going to the Chapel

This beautiful, peaceful little Prayer Chapel has recently been completed on the campus of my alma mater, Corban College. The pictures just make me want to take a trip to the Northwest to sit for a while in this beautiful place.
Corban was a special place for me while I was there. It was the place where I finally realized my dream of finishing my bachelor's degree. It was where I learned how much I had to offer the work force. And, most importantly it was the place that led me to question my faith enough to finally meet the Lord heart-to-heart and surrender to Him.

Photos Courtesy of Corban/Western Baptist Alumni Facebook Page

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love is in the Air

It was 1970-something and it was Valentine’s Day. My would be Valentine presented me with a sweet card and a bag of cherry sour candies. I ate the candies and cherished the card – right up until the afternoon that we had a fight. Then I ran to my bedroom, removed the card from its safekeeping spot beneath my mattress, ripped it in half, and threw it in the trash basket. Later that evening when we made up I returned to the trash basket, retrieved the card, stapled it back together, and placed it back under my mattress.

Ah, Valentine’s Day brings with it such pressure. The cards, the commercials, the drive to have romantic encounters on this one day of the year have clouded the truth. Valentine’s Day is about celebrating love, but the commercialism of the holiday is all about being in love, not loving.

There is a line in the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movie Sleepless in Seattle that I adore (and one of the few movie lines I can quote.) Annie’s boss and friend, Becky (Rosie O’Donnell) says to Annie (Meg Ryan), “The problem is you don’t want to be in love, you want to be in love in a movie.” It’s like that line was written in response to the marketing campaigns that flood us in the weeks leading up to the Big Day. They are more about being in love than loving.

There is a difference you know. Being in love is fun. It’s about first dates and first kisses. It brings butterflies in the stomach and sweaty palms. It can be fleeting and fickle. And, even in the best relationships it often comes and goes.

Love is hard. It’s about accepting people with all their warts. It’s about being there during the tough times and the sad times. It takes work. Love lives on from day to day despite the rough spots.

The romance of being in love fades into love. There are still times of being in love, but the day to day is about the work. Love is hard, but it’s worth it.

Valentine’s Day doesn’t stick around for the work. It showers its glitter and then goes into hiding for the next year. We all have to live through the year. We have to keep on loving and keep on caring.

This Valentine’s Day I wish for you love. And don’t forget to show your love; not just today, but tomorrow and the next day and on through the year.

This Valentine rose was found at Safeway. It was so cute in its lady bug planter that I couldn’t resist. So, I showed myself love on this Valentine’s Day and brought this little guy home.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Tales from the Crazy Cat Lady

It has been quite a week and I sit here watching Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains yearning for Friday and the start of the weekend. It is so close I can smell it. Ah TGIF!

Survivor is one of those shows I keep saying I am not going to get caught up in each season, but so far I have been unable to avoid its siren song. This season they have brought back all the great people (yeah, hurray!) and all the evil ones (boo, hiss.) I’m a sucker for a hero like Rupert or Tom. I am hooked again and have already begun the cheering and the jeering and it’s only 20 minutes in.

This week brought with it a scratchy throat that grew into a hacking cough which resulted in an alternately husky and squeaky voice. My boss got tired of the hacking about 4pm and told me to go home. It was not something I argued with for long. I was looking forward to getting in my old sweats and curling up on the couch. As I drove out of the parking lot the geese behind the parking garage were pecking around looking for a tasty morsel for dinner.

One goose raised his head and looked at me with a look that pretty much said, “Leaving so soon? The work day isn’t over yet.”

To which I promptly replied, “Yep, boss man ordered it so back off with your accusing look.”

I am pretty sure he then turned to his buddies to alert them to the fact that I was sneaking out. But, I wasn’t really sneaking out at all since the boss said so. Anyway, I didn’t stick around to debate the point.

Heading over to the highway I noticed a guy beside me just talking up a storm. I think he was trying to make it look like he was on a blue tooth headset but I am pretty sure he was just talking to himself. I know this because I do the same thing!

The sky was overcast and dreary but as the sun set in the west it cast a slight pink glow on the clouds to the east. It was beautiful right up until another hacking fit disrupted my reverie.

Then as I sat at the stoplight on my second to last turn….the left before the right….a FedEx truck roared through the light trying to beat the red and my little old Sheriff rocked back and forth. Thankfully, he was able to stay on all four wheels and we didn’t land on our side. Stupid FedEx truck.

Urgh, by the way, I am not a fan of evil Russell on Survivor. He is quite the jerk. And, he reminds me of an ex boyfriend who shall remain nameless, but if you are reading this you know who you are! Sorry, that’s reality in my world.

Have I told you all recently how much I love my kitty cat? Not recently, you say? Well, let me remedy that.

I have the sweetest kitty boy ever and we just are so perfect together. I might be a crazy cat lady, but I don’t want to share my love so there will be no other kitty cats in this house And just so you know, I wave the crazy cat lady banner proudly!

Anyway, tonight I was sitting here reading the paper – quietly I might add since there weren’t any real flaming letters to the editor that I needed to send my response to out into the cosmos. In the midst of my nightly perusal of the news I hear a horrible racket from upstairs. Really, having a four year old kitty is much like having a four year old child.

“Wilson, what are you doing? Don’t make me come up there.” I croak in the general direction of the stairs.

Quiet for a few minutes and then I hear it again. Almost curious enough to go upstairs I wait. It happens again and suddenly the light bulb appears over my head and I laugh. Dub has found a door stop behind a door. You know the springy kind with a little knob to stop the door from slamming into the wall. He was having a blast whacking it around!

Just now my adorable boy came over all sweet and doe eyed acting like he wants to cuddle. No dice, buddy, I am wise to your tricks. As he stands on my chest I have a blip of a dream I had in sixth grade. I got really sick overnight one time and dreamed that I had a 50 lb. turkey sitting on my chest. I spent a week in bed with that cold.

Of course, that story led me to remember the time in 3rd grade when my Girl Scout leader sent me home with a note that said…..

….and I told Mom, “I need 2 lubs of hamburger for Girl Scouts next week.” I, of course, have yet to live that one down since my siblings will occasionally drag it out and tease me.

But back to my kitty boy. I was wise to his tricks. He didn’t want to snuggle with me; he wanted to snuggle with the purring, warm lap top which makes it hard to write. He’s now sitting just there giving me the cold shoulder. Oh, but I love my sweet boy!

So, that’s it; my world today in less than 1,000 words. Thanks for stopping by and you all come again soon!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Monkey Bars for the Brain

In honor of the amazing things David Hames contributed to this world I wanted to share this video. David was working on a series of DVDs for toddlers and preschoolers. As Captain Cranium, the captain of Cranium's Ark, he taught important skills for life like counting and relying on God. I couldn't help but smile and foot tap along while Word the Bible rapped Philippians 4:13. Enjoy!

Cranium's Ark Web Site

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tears are Falling

Photo courtesy of Friends of David

It has been 27 days since the earthquake and the day we prayed wouldn’t come has arrived. It was our hope and prayer that David Hames would be found alive and come home to his family. Sadly today, his family was notified that his remains have been tentatively identified and will be returned to the US to be officially identified.

There is sorrow today as we mourn the loss of a husband, father, son, brother, and friend. There are no words right now to express my grief for the loss of this man I have never met. I have spent 27 days reading stories about him told by his friends and family. A picture has emerged of someone who loved his wife and boys. The stories I have heard tell of a man who enjoyed life and lived it to the full. Someone friends could laugh with and share their dreams. A man whose mother was proud to call son and his siblings loved. The many, many people who joined his Facebook page and shared him with others are testament to a man who is well loved.

Also apparent in the stories is how he loved and served the Lord. He was in Haiti filming a video to document the plight of orphans to bring attention to this problem. His heart was full of compassion for the orphans in Haiti and Swaziland. It was that compassion that took him to Haiti just days before the earthquake.

We can’t know this side of heaven why the Lord chose to take David so early in life, but we do know that David was a faithful servant. We do know that while we mourn we can be assured that someday our paths will again cross David’s when we too reach heaven. A friend posted several days ago that when David got to heaven she could see him “laughing, singing, and playing his ukulele as he danced down the streets of gold.” What an awesome picture to keep before us in the days ahead as we learn to live a life with one less ray of sunshine.

My heart goes out to David’s family and friends and they continue to be in my prayers.

A fund to help David’s family has been sent up and they have partnered with Helping Hands Ministries to continue David’s work with orphans. Friends of David Funds

We also heard today that the remains of Walt Ratterman were recovered yesterday.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Big Kenny Making a Difference

If you have been visiting my blog in the last month you know that Port-au-Prince and the earthquake have been constantly on my mind. This tragedy has touched my heart in ways I cannot fully explain. Prior to the quake I knew about Haiti. I had a friend who was a missionary in the Dominican Republic whose heart was set on seeing the island of Hispaniola reunited into one country. I understood some of the politics and history of the area. Still, when the quake hit that was as far as my connection went until I heard of David Hames.

I have never met David or his family, but I have friends who are his friends. My life has been tied up in the search of the Hotel Montana for him and the rest of the people who are still missing there. I am learning about community through this experience and that will be the subject of another blog post. As I have watched this unfold there have been people who have moved onto the stage as heroes in this story. One of those people is Big Kenny Alphin

I didn’t know much about Big Kenny prior to this. He is half of the country duo Big and Rich and is now working on his career as a solo artist. When the earthquake occurred a good friend of BK’s was in the Hotel Montana. Walt Ratterman  was there working on a project involving renewable sources of energy for rural hospitals. BK put his life hold and flew down to Haiti.

Over the course of the last few weeks Kenny has been at the site of the Montana and has been involved in many aspects of the rescue including digging alongside the Search and Recovery teams. He did whatever needed to be done. He offered his celebrity if you will to bring attention to the plight of those waiting. When supplies were needed or word needed to get out he was there to trumpet the request. He gave everything he had while there.

Big Kenny has returned home to his family, but he hasn’t given up the fight. From stateside he is still working his magic to keep the attention on the areas that need it. He won’t give up until Walt and the other missing at the Montana are found and brought home to their families. But, as I visited his web site I see that he is also committed to Haiti and helping them rebuild. He will continue to help long into the future.

May God bless Big Kenny in the love he has for his fellow man.

I wrote this post on Saturday, but this morning a Facebook friend posted a link to an article. I wanted to share the article about Walt and Kenny's friendship with you.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Haiti Update

It has been 23 days since the earth shook. Life has moved on. The news value seems to have faded as people have to look deep in their papers and surf the channels to find any information on what is happening.

But, for the people who are still waiting for their loved ones to be found the world has stopped. They still wait for any bit of news.

David is still missing and his family is missing him. There are still many people who were in the Hotel Montana at the time of the quake that haven't been found.  The teams from Haiti, Canada, France, Mexico, US, and other countries continue working side by side on the recovery. They often have to dig and move rubble by hand. The areas left to search are unstable and the progress is slow. I imagine it must be excrutiating for them as they are eager to find news for the waiting. They go about their work with the utmost respect and concern.

Elsewhere in Port-au-Prince people from all over the world are working to distribute food and other necessary items. They work everyday to make sure the Haitian people are taken care of so they can start rebuidling their lives, but there is so much to do.

Please remember to keep the missing, their families, and all of the Haitian people in your prayers.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Of Frogs and Hogs

For years everyone has known that February 2 is Groundhog Day and we all know that if old Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow we will experience six more weeks of winter. But, did you know that January 30 is Ground Frog Day!?! Yes, you read it right and it’s not a typo. According to the Snohomish Ground Frog Day Official Web Site, Snohomish Slew is the true prognosticator of our weather and so old Punxsie should just get used to sharing the lime light.  Legend says that if The Slew emerges from the ground on January 30 and sees his shadow winter will continue another six long weeks.

Regardless of the battle between the frog and the hog to be THE nation’s weather animal they both agree this year….six more weeks of winter weather. I know, it’s not a welcome thought right now for some folks who are being ravaged by the snow, cold, and ice but the ground folk have spoken.

And yes, it’s a true statement that some people have hard feelings about this whole thing. Today my favorite author, the very sweet Jennifer Valent was seen to have posted on Facebook that she “is very bitter towards a particular groundhog right now.” But, never fear, Jenn has ways of dealing with this and one friend supported her by suggesting she kill off old Phil in her next book!

Unfortunately, and to the surprise of many, my winter so far here in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains has not been bad at all. But, because I can feel your pain I decided to share this picture to help you all remember that spring will come and life will be good again.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Conscious Change

As the families and friends of the lost at the Hotel Montana prayed and waited for word, information coming out of Haiti was spotty and often old or simply inaccurate. It was a heartbreaking process of trying to figure out what was really happening and what was truth. Then came Gretchen Wallace twittering as Conscious Change. Suddenly there was someone connecting through Twitter and Facebook that was there at the Montana. She was sifting the wheat from the chaff. She was an angel.

Who, you may ask, is Gretchen Wallace? According to the Global Grassroots web site she is one woman who has a dream of helping other women. She formed the non-profit organization in 2004. The mission is to unite, empower and support relief of poor, distressed and underprivileged women worldwide. Over the six years since its inception Global Grassroots has helped over 8,000 individuals per year and touched over 40,000 through the changes they are helping underprivileged women work in their own lives.

How Gretchen ended up at the Hotel Montana is not clear to me, but she clearly has been a God send to thousands. Over the last two weeks Gretchen and her brother Brian have been onsite and around the area doing whatever needs to be done. They have helped with the physical work. They have tracked down resources. Gretchen has worked to build a database of information on the missing to assist with locating these people. Sadly, much of her information will also be used to identify the dead as they are recovered from the rubble.

These last two weeks Gretchen has put her money where her mouth is so to speak. She has given up the comforts of home to sleep on the ground in the parking lot of the destroyed hotel. She has forgone showers and other conveniences of daily life just to be there for others. She is truly a person who is making a difference for others.

Thanks to Gretchen those of us following the work around the world have reliable information. She posts only that which she can verify and she is very cognizant of how one small incorrect post can devastate a loved one. Her heart is obviously full of compassion and caring. Gretchen has been a gift to many.

Thank you, Gretchen, for all you are doing!